Remanufacturers have the same goals as every business that produces a product for a market. They want to deliver a great end product that pleases the customer, maximize the profit from that sale and do so while treating their workforce well. These business goals are all served by better cleaning technology. But because the incoming parts come with the “baggage” of their past use, remanufacturers must take special care to clean parts, remove complex soils, refinish and reassemble them into a quality working product.
Note: If you suspect your current cleaning methods are holding you back, you can learn more about creating the right process for your plant in our new guide, Remanufacturing Cleaning: Problems, Solutions and Control.
Here are four main reasons more advanced cleaning technologies are a great opportunity for remanufacturers. The first two are general industry concerns and the second pair is specific to the older cleaning processes still in use in many facilities.
Let’s first review two factors specific to remanufacturing which make the choice of cleaning technology a crucial decision.
Economy and Effectiveness
One specific concern is that the remanufacturing tends to be countercyclical. When economic conditions are favorable, customers tend to purchase fewer remanufactured products in favor of new equipment; the reverse is true when conditions are unfavorable and the purchaser sees that remanufactured products can save a significant amount while delivering the same capabilities.
That means every opportunity to reduce costs is that much more important. The more you save, the more you can save the end customer, making remanufactured equipment more attractive for a longer part of the cycle.
A Clean Incoming Product
As you know, the items you source for remanufacture will often have coatings left from their original creation and subsequent use, such as paint, soot, carbon oils, and grease. If the cleaning process fails to remove any of these, recleaning and other rework will be required, driving your costs up. For example, if oils are left on the surface, paint will fail to adhere, meaning time and money spent removing the paint and recleaning the part.
In short, the removal of soils from the metal surface is the most important step in producing high quality finished goods.
Next, let’s explore two ineffective approaches and opportunities for improvement that remanufacturing can offer. In many cleaning scenarios, current technology is falling short either in capability or by creating additional problems by the manner in which it cleans. These deficiencies need to be addressed to achieve excellent cleaning at a reasonable cost.
In an effort to create a simple and effective cleaning process which can handle nearly any contamination, many aqueous cleaning suppliers introduced products that depend on extremely high pH levels. While these can definitely blast soils off the substrate, they can be dangerous to work with, especially if they become airborne. They also can be damaging to certain alloys.
Waste Processing Concerns
On a related note, disposal fees for high pH cleaners can be quite costly, and the regulatory restrictions on such disposal quite burdensome. This is also true of cleaners with high chlorine content and a range of other additives. This can lead to a tendency to use the cleaning solution in a particular bath past the point of its effectiveness in an effort to reduce costs. Once the bath is cleaning less effectively, soils are left intact, requiring recleaning, rework or both, which raises the cost of production significantly.
Essentially, cleaners with high pH or dated technology will have a lower per-gallon cost than more advanced options, but can significantly increase your total cost per part with safety precautions/training, disposal and rework.